Netball coach wins national award for community work

A Ripon netball coach is one of 27 people recognised for the coveted British Citizen Award.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 3:00 pm

Helen Mackenzie, a physical education teacher who started Ripon City Netball Club, received her services to the community medal via a courier instead of attending a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster because of Coronavirus lockdown.

A spokesman for the BCA said: “Eleven years ago, Helen learned that she had an aggressive form of stage three breast cancer.

“She vowed then, that when she had beaten it, she would make competitive sport - normally the preserve of the ultra-fit and young - accessible to all.

“So, she started Ripon City Netball Club which attracts young girls but equally welcomes seniors and people with varying levels of mobility, ability and sporting prowess.

“It is a club where many mums - including Helen herself - play alongside their own daughters.”

Since launching in 2015 there are now nearly 100 women taking part in netball who would not normally do so.

“They are coached by Helen and are greeted with a smile and the knowledge that they are going to be treated with respect,” added the BCA spokesman.

“Every person, whether it be their first time or their 20th, are taught in a way that is both easy to understand and enjoyable.

“No one is left on the side-lines or ignored if they cannot learn as fast as others.”

Helen’s sporting career has also seen her swim to a semi-elite level, represented her county in seven sports, and became one of the first coaches to achieve the England Netball level 3 Coaching Award.

Wendy Pretten, Managing Director Customer Delivery at sponsors Places for People, who would have presented Helen with her medal, said: “The British Citizen Awards honour those who shine brightly and work tirelessly in their local communities to improve the lives of others, and it’s a privilege to have been a supporter since its formation in 2015.

“As 2021 progresses, we still find ourselves faced with many challenges, yet the ongoing dedication and compassion shown by medalists this year has been incredible.

“Once again, it’s undeniably disappointing we cannot celebrate together in person, but hearing about Helen and the personal goals she set herself, whilst battling aggressive cancer, is phenomenal.

“Helen’s personal strength is now benefitting over 100 girls and women of all ages with her inclusive mindset and dedication to competitive sport.

“Her very own Ripon City Netball Club is a lifeline to so many women in the area and her team must be very proud of what she’s achieved.”

The British Citizen Award was established in 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly making a positive impact on society.

The BCA recognises true pillars of the community, whose divergent endeavours deserve honouring, but might otherwise likely be overlooked.

Dubbed the People’s Honours, each Medal bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice annually.

The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.